By Jim Donovan

By Jim Donovan

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Is your yard ready for spring? Or do you still have left over leaves and debris hanging around?

One of the first things you should do is look around your yard and take an assessment.

“How does your yard look, are your shrubs in good shape, do you have the trees you want, also how does that deck or patio look? You can make a list of things that need to be tackled now as you get ready for the spring season,” said Angie’s List founder, Angie Hicks.

And make sure your lawn is clear of leaves and twigs otherwise you’ll be blocking sunlight, water and important nutrients from reaching grass roots.

Now is also a good time to consider whether you want a professional to get your lawn in tip-top shape.

“Sometimes the yard just may need a little more effort than you are willing to put forth. That’s when it’s time to hire a pro, especially if you are going to need chemicals to get that extra boost this year, because professionals are going to be certified in handling the different types of fertilizers and chemicals that might be necessary,” said Hicks.

And don’t forget to make sure your lawnmower is ready for the season.

“It’s important now to make sure your mower is in good working condition. If it’s hard to start, if your blades need to be sharpened it doesn’t mean you need a whole new mower. A lot of times people think they need to run out and buy a mower, but a mower can be tuned up and repaired for as much as $50 to $100 which is a lot cheaper than buying a new mower,” said Hicks.

More from Angie on caring for your lawn:

Clean up the yard: If you still have leaves or debris in your yard, remove as soon as possible. Leaves left on the yard prevent it from receiving the sunlight it needs. Rake up thatch as well because thatch can prevent nutrients and water from reaching grass roots.

Service your lawnmower: Regular maintenance on your lawnmower can help avoid ill-timed breakdowns and extend its lifecycle. A service appointment should include an oil change, sparkplugs, air filter, carburetor, cables, belts, and inspection/sharpening of the blade – dull mower blades will splinter your grass, causing it to wilt.

Seed and feed: If you have any bare spots on your lawn, now is a good time for seed. Your lawn may also benefit from fertilizer at this time. If you are unsure about the health of your lawn, take a plug of your lawn to your local nursery to learn what your lawn really needs. The federal government requires those who apply certain chemicals to control weeds, insects or diseases to be certified pesticide applicators. If they can’t provide documentation, find another company. And beware of any company or product that promises a quick cure. Remember your lawn is a growing plant. If it is weak and damaged it will take longer to recover.

Need maintenance? Warning signs that your mower needs maintenance can include difficulty in starting, a smoking engine, a dull blade, and reduced horsepower.

Schedule a service: The best time to have your mower serviced is in the fall – companies are less busy, so you may be able to save some money. If you failed to service your mower last year, now is the time to call. Lawnmower service companies are at their busiest in the late spring, so try to schedule service early so your mower is ready to go when you need it.

Ask what’s included: A service appointment should check the oil, blade, spark plugs, filter, battery and belts. Some facilities will require you to drop your mower off at their shop, while others will make house calls. Always ask for an estimate and guarantee on the work. A spring checkup can cost $50-$150 depending on whether you have a push or riding lawn mower.

Don’t mow with a dull blade: Be sure to sharpen the blade at least once a year. Cutting grass with a sharpened blade is important for lawn health – it promotes better grass health. If you notice the blade has some major gashes, it may be time to buy a new blade – which costs around $10. Keep grass at least 2 to 3 inches tall. This height helps keep the moisture in the grass and the weeds out.

Keep in clean: After each mowing, wait until the engine cools and use a hose to spray the clippings and grass debris that may be clinging to the underside of the deck of your mower. This will keep grass clippings from building up and help prevent clogging.

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